Spotlight: Ali

Today we are spotlighting Ali!  We first met Ali as a client at one of our Knitting in Recovery classes.  Now Ali has been clean and sober for over a year, and she is one of our teachers for Knitting in Recovery!

Over the summer, Ali submitted several pieces to the Ventura County Fair and won three 3rd place, one 2nd place, and one 1st place ribbons!

Ali is currently teaching for Knitting in Recovery at one facility and will be starting at a few new facilities in the coming months.  We are also hoping to start a knitting and crochet group at the VC Arts Collective in the Pacific View Mall, which Ali will teach.

Ali has several pieces on display and available for purchase at the VC Arts Collective, including several beanies slouchy beanies and adorable clutch purses.

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She has finished several recent commissions including leg warmers, beanies, and blankets, and she is currently working on a king-sized blanket for a family friend.  She is already planning on making beanies in sports team and school colors to have for sale at the mall space, such as black and gold for Ventura High School.

Thank you, Ali, for helping our program grow and better serve our community.

 

Donor Spotlight: Brenda

At Knitting in Recovery, all of our gracious donors mean the world to us.  They make what we do possible, so we wanted to take the time to highlight them and share our deepest gratitude.

Today we are spotlighting Brenda.  We asked her to share a little bit about herself, her passion for knitting, and how she got involved with Knitting in Recovery.  What she wrote was honest, powerful, and touching.  Thank you, Brenda, for helping our program succeed in helping other women in recovery:

Hi,

I am so flattered that you are interested in writing a blog post about me.  But as I sit down to write about myself, I find it very difficult.  But I’ll give it a shot.

I was born in a lovely small town on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan.  My mother married my father when she was 18 and he was 21.  Due to infertility problems, I didn’t come along until 12 years later, which probably was for the best.  Back then, women didn’t have much access to birth control and it wasn’t unusual to have 4 or more children closely spaced.  Although that’s what my mother thought she wanted, she came to realize that my father was an emotionally and verbally abusive man, who also was a moderately-functioning alcoholic.  Once I was born, she decided that we would be better without him and filed for divorce: a very brave thing to do in 1961.  My father moved about 30 miles away, and although he continued to see me sporadically for the next couple of years, by the time I was three, he had a new family and stopped seeing me altogether.  I received a few letters from him over the years with invitations to meet, but he never followed through.  The last time I saw him was in a funeral home after he passed.

Although my mother’s family lived about 20 miles away, it was like another world, and one to which she did not want to return.  Life was very tough in those early years, but the two of us made a nice little family.  She always emphasized education, and I loved school. I was always very independent and felt that a good education was the means to a better life.  For a while, life continued on a fairly normal path, and eventually I went to college in Chicago, a city that I love.

Aside from some pot smoking, I stuck to alcohol for partying.  And honestly, I was a very moderate drinker with no signs of an addiction problem.  In fact, I was the girl who stayed sober enough to watch out for drunk girlfriends or be the designated driver.  But when I was 30, I broke up with a long-term boyfriend.  I was completely devastated.  It hurt so badly that I spent hours curled up in a ball crying.  But worst of all, I couldn’t sleep.  That’s when I bought my first bottle of scotch to “help” me sleep.

But it got bad very fast.  I refer to the next seven years as “crawling into a bottle, and then trying to crawl out, often unsuccessfully.”  I lost my job and my apartment and had to move back home.  Like most recovery paths, there were several starts and stops.  I did one inpatient rehab and several outpatient.  After one stint, I was able to stay sober for 6 months.  But I became arrogant and stopped going to meetings.  I was finally called into Human Resources at my new job because someone smelled alcohol on my breath.  I was given the opportunity to keep my job if I attended outpatient treatment.  I accepted, but also made the decision at that moment to stay sober.

That was March 17, 1997.  This time, I was successful because I truly embraced the first three steps for the first time in my recovery journey.

Life didn’t become perfect overnight, and in fact, I feel like I am still rebuilding from things I lost during those seven years.  One thing that had continued to allude me was a career that I liked.  Surprisingly to me and others (it’s a long story for another time), I obtained my Masters of Science in Accounting.  I now work on a freelance basis, since my health keeps me from working full-time, or meeting the demands of a conventional accounting firm (more about that coming).

My knitting history is not uncommon.  My mother learned to knit from one grandmother and to crochet from the other.  She taught me to knit when I was young, and I knit a couple of scarves and quit.  When I first began recovery, I spent a lot of time alone (aside from meetings and work), and I needed to keep my mind busy.  I read a lot and also decided to try knitting again.  This was the period when fun-fur scarves were popular.  I discovered that I enjoyed it and wanted to branch out.  This was when knitters were venturing into the internet (although a few years before Ravelry, a knitter’s dream website).  I am not artistic, but love color.  So many indie dyers were popping up with beautiful yarns, and I taught myself to knit socks.

It seems that the addictive part of my brain kicked in, although this time, it was yarn, especially sock yarn, that had replaced alcohol.  I joined yarn clubs and felt an adrenalin rush when the boxes showed up in my mailbox.  If I knit from now until eternity, I would never get through the stash I amassed.

In 2016, I was working furiously to finish a baby sweater for an upcoming family baby shower (Elizabeth Zimmerman’s baby surprise jacket which never disappoints), and I noticed my right hand becoming sore.  At my age, I expect to have a little arthritis, so I wasn’t alarmed.  But one morning, I woke up to find that my right hand was essentially frozen in one position.  This scared me enough to go to the doctor.  The diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  If you aren’t familiar with RA, it’s actually not arthritis in the conventional sense, but instead, a chronic, incurable auto-immune disease in which one’s immune system attacks joints and organs.  This was life-changing news, to say the least.  And once again, I revisited Step #1: I am powerless over this disease, and if I don’t work a recovery program of some kind, my life will become unmanageable.

It’s been 18 months since my RA diagnosis, and although my hand is much better, I am still working hard to accept many of the physical limitations to my mind and body caused by the disease and medications.  Luckily, I haven’t needed narcotics for pain, but I am aware that my addictive-prone brain may be all too happy to have access to mood-altering substances again in the future.

As I wrote, acceptance has been especially difficult for me.  One day, I was looking at my yarn stash and finding myself drowning in self-pity for all the beautiful yarn that I would never use.  But we in recovery know that self-pity is a dangerous emotion.  At some point, several years ago, I had read about a woman who was teaching women in recovery to knit as part of their program.  A few Google searches later, I found Knitting in Recovery.  I was immediately heartened as I looked through your Facebook page and found photos, not only of women who were knitting and crocheting for themselves, but also for those who are less fortunate.  As they say, deciding what to do with a great deal of my stash became a no-brainer.  And before I knew it, my dear husband was lugging several boxes of yarn to the post office.  I feel as though this was an appropriate way to work the 12th step.

It turns out that I am not yet finished with yarn.  After several months, my hand became more flexible, and I have gone back to knitting, albeit, not as fast or as prolific.  I’m more careful about choosing projects, and find that socks are too hard on my hands.  Instead, I make fingerless mitts, which I wear almost constantly these days to keep my hands warm and more flexible.  Plus, more people see the lovely yarns I’m using: win-win, right?

I continue to work my recovery, although I have found Al-Anon to be more helpful as I revisit step #4.  It also helps me to understand, that, while my father was absent during my life, his alcoholism was still in the background, working its devious behavior on both my mother and me.

In closing, I will say that, while I can’t really say that I am happy that I became an alcoholic, I am nevertheless grateful to have become acquainted with the 12 steps.  I think they are brilliant tools for living a good life.  I also want to stress that I understand that I have not begun to face the hurdles that so many others in recovery have or continue to face.  I meet people around the tables that remind me of this with every visit.  I wish I could hug everyone and make it better.  But perhaps you’re ladies will find a least a little happiness as you pick up knitting needles or a crochet hook, and create a lovely hat, scarf, or shawl that will give you a sense of accomplishment.  Because we women are strong, and we deserve all the happiness life has to share.

Fondly,

Brenda

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Thank you, Brenda!

#Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

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Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

There are many worthy organizations, but one of the best ways to make the most impact is in your own community.  Like choosing to shop locally, giving locally helps small non-profits directly serve the needs of your community members.

This Giving Tuesday, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to Knitting in Recovery.  Donations will go toward purchasing yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks for our clients, paying our teachers to continue administering kind instruction to our clients, and providing employment for a client at our storefront in the Pacific View Mall.

Donations can also be made in someone’s honor and given as a gift.

Gift in your honor card

If you would like to donate, click here or follow the “Donate” link on the left-hand side of the blog.  If you are making a donation in someone else’s name and would like the “A gift has been made in your honor” card seen above, please email emily@knittinginrecovery.com.

Knitting in Recovery at Focus on the Masters Gift Shop

Knitting in Recovery is currently at the Focus on the Masters Holiday Gift Shop.

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Local friends, come stop by!

The event is open this weekend only:

83 S Palm St, Ventura, CA

Saturday: 10 am-5pm

Sunday 12 pm-4 pm

Our clients have been working hard crafting lovely, cozy things to sell at this event.  They are thrilled to be represented alongside such talented local artists.

The event features 23 local Ventura County artists selling paintings, jewelry, ceramics, artisan soap, quilts, silk scarves, holiday cards, and more.

A portion of the profits go toward Focus on the Masters (FOTM), a Ventura-based non-profit art appreciation organization that documents, preserves and presents the works and lives of accomplished contemporary artists, emphasizing the importance of the arts to a healthy society.  FOTM is going into their 23rd year of programming.  Find out more about the organization here.

 

Store Spotlight: Twist, Yarns of Intrigue

Knitting in Recovery has received so many generous donations from Twist, Yarns of Intrigue that we wanted to spotlight their amazing store!

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Twist storefront

Twist is based in Manhattan Beach, CA and run by Cathy Karen.  Karen studied fine art in the conceptual art department at UC Irvine before realizing her love of fiber art.  Karen refocused her studies and switched universities to enroll in one of the West Coast’s leading textile arts programs, and soon launched into a highly successful career in textile design and color consulting.  Now she uses her 30+ years of experience in art and color consulting to run her own yarn and textile boutique.

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The store boasts an impressive signature line of artisan yarns that are hand-spun and hand-dyed in-house by owner Cathy.  Cathy even offers dyed-to-order custom yarns.  Twist also has an amazing inventory of one-of-a-kind original yarns handmade by artisans around the world.  Their yarns come in a rich array of contemporary colors and fibers including organic cottons and wool, mohair, silk, cashmere, hemp, soy, and bamboo.

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Hand-dyed yarns on the drying rack.

One of the things that makes Twist stand out is their commitment to making a difference and improving the lives of people around the world.  In addition to donating to Knitting in Recovery, Twist also features a line of “yarns with conscious” made by women in Calcutta, South Africa, and Bolivia, the profits of which go back into the communities from which they came.  Check out their Giving Back page to view the full list of women and organizations that Twist supports.

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Donations to Knitting in Recovery come from Twist (brand new yarns) as well as from customers (unused stash, leftover yarns from projects).  Twist customers donate from the goodness of their hearts and receive nothing other than our thanks and heartfelt appreciation for their generosity.

Many heartfelt thanks to Cathy and Twist customers for their continued support of Knitting in Recovery.

Check out Twist for your next knitting or crochet project or to join a class at Twist and meet other crafters.

Twist, Yarns of Intrigue

226 S Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

310. 374. 7810

November @ Twist
OPEN Wednesday through Sunday!

  • Wednesday:      12 – 4+
  • Thursday:          12 – 4+
  • Friday:                12 – 4+
  • Saturday:           11 – 5+
  • Sunday:              12 – 4+

New Visions Clients Knit for Babies

Our clients at Turning Point Foundation’s New Visions Center in Ventura are some of the sweetest, most generous women we know!  They love knitting and crocheting projects to donate, particularly when it comes to babies.

One of Turning Point’s staff members recently had a baby, and our clients made these cozy knits for him.

Slippers from Prototypes

One of our clients at Prototypes Women’s Center in Oxnard made these comfy slippers for her whole family.

This client just learned to knit.  She wanted to make slippers, so she figured out a pattern for these.  Each pair took her just an evening to make, so she was able to make them for all of her family members.

After long days of group therapy, job searching, and re-educating herself, knitting is a nice way for her to wind down and knit as a way to help heal strained family bonds.